CS301 Agenda


·        Group Management Psychology

·        GSI Burnout

Group Management Psychology


How do your students groups work?




How many of you had positive group experiences? Negative?


Role Play:


Meet with them proactively to find out how things are going! Don't wait for them to come to you.


How do you observe that a group has problems?


What is going on? What is the other side? What kinds of questions should you ask to find out more?


1.   Different Work Styles

a.     Everything is going great! I write all the code and my partner reads it over the night before it's due to make sure it's correct.

b.     My partner does all the coding without telling me, so I never get a chance.

c.      My partner says we have plenty of time to finish; I'm getting nervous.

d.     My partner and I don't ever seem to be able to find a time to meet.

e.     My partner is a morning person and gets all of their work done between 6-9am. I'm a night person and do all my work from 12am-3am. We just can't sync up.

f.       My partner likes to work at the last minute, whereas I want to work a little bit each day.

2.   Different Abilities

a.   My partner is stupid; his code sucks. I have to rewrite everything.

3.   Don’t know how to start

a.   We haven't started yet.

b.   We have all the design done, but haven't started coding.

c.    Whenever we come to the lab, all the computers are taken.

4.   Outright hostility

a.   I hate my partner and refuse to speak to him again.

b.   I haven't heard from my partner in two weeks. I don't know what's going on.

c.    My partner does no work, but feels so guilty about it that she nags me all the time to finish my piece.

d.   My partner is a lump. He has no motivation to do anything.

5.   Other

a.   My partner dropped the class!

b.   My partner claims to have mono, but last weekend, I saw him partying at his fraternity.

c.    If my partner were wandering in the desert and she was dying of thirst, I would not stop to give her any water. She is a rat, and I hope that a snake comes along and eats her.



How do you fix these problems?


a.     Ask each member individually for a list of grievances.

b.     Each member of the group gives one another a grade for the project and an explanation of why they deserve it.

c.      Call the group in for a group meeting. Force them to talk out their problems and resolve them.

d.     Rate the group on its "group health." This is the big brother approach. You’ll be watching them...

e.     Meet with the "problem" group member and tell them to get in line.


If the group just CANNOT stay together, then what?


a.     Separate the partners and force them to pick new groups.

b.     Have each person submit a survey of their skills and ability in the CS topic and match them up. Do you match whizkids with whizkids or mix up the skill levels?

c.      Find out if students can work on their own.

d.     Ask other TAs for people in their sections who need new partners.

e.     Complain to your professor.

f.       Consider the situation when assigning grades to the project.



GSI Burnout


Watch out for it.


What are the signs?


a.     Grouchy or angry all the time.

b.     Taking longer to respond to students' emails.

c.      No longer available except during precise office hours.

d.     Feeling exhausted after office hours.

e.     Pulling all-nighters for your own projects.

f.       Students aren't coming to your section anymore.

g.     You want your annoying students to die.

h.     You want any student who asks you a question to die.

i.       You don't want to teach ever ever again.

j.       You've stopped doing those little "extras" that you used to do in the beginning of the term.

k.     You ask yourself in October, "when is Thanksgiving?"

l.       You're not sleeping.

m.   Every night you worry about what you will go over in section.

n.     You vent to the students about how insane the professor is.



Why are you burning out?

         Too many other things to do (You have a life).

         Too much one-on-one interaction with your students.

         You’re not strict enough about your boundaries.


What to do?


a.     Take a mental health day from TAing. Take Saturday off.

b.     Limit the amount of time you spend on TA duties. Perhaps organize yourself by day (e.g. MW TA days, TRF research).

c.      Go to Dan Garcia, Brian Harvey or Mike Clancy and ask for a motivating pep talk.

d.     Rearrange your office hours (if possible, check with the students first) for variety.

e.     Get another TA to cover your office hours or section.

f.       Before responding to an annoying student, count to 10.

g.     REMEMBER, just because you’re burned out, you should NEVER take it out on your students.

h.     Switch to the buddy-model of TAing (TA all sections one week, then take a break. Repeat).

i.       If you know that you’ll be getting burned out towards the end of the term, see if you can shift your responsibilities towards the beginning of the term so you have less to do at the end.

j.       Ditching responsibilities is bad.

k.     Never disparage the prof in front of the students. :)